Labour dispute: Workers lock themselves in

HARARE - Workers at a sewing factory in Harare’s Msasa industrial area have locked themselves at their workplace, vowing to leave only after their wage demands are met.

When the Daily News visited Michelle Fashions owned by 2010 Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Business Woman of the year Leah Dauramanzi late on Tuesday, workers showed no sign of preparing to go home.

“We will continue to work but will not leave this place. Our bosses have been paying us in fits and starts for the past three years now.

“What do I do with $2? Today it is actually better because we have been given $20,” said an irate worker brandishing the notes.

Dauramanzi was unavailable for comment while her husband Davis refused to shed light on the dispute.

“It is not a public matter and I hope you will understand if we are not willing to say much. We are looking at resolving the issue and will not resort to debating in the media. It is a sign of weakness,” Davis said.

The workers alleged that police at Rhodesville have been used to intimidate them while a retired police officer identified as Mwashita is allegedly politicising the issue.

“He is coming here and talking Zanu PF politics. He urges us to be patriotic and all that kind of nonsense. We do not eat patriotism, it is the festive season and what can one do with these peanuts. We are not monkeys,” another worker charged.

Workers committee chairperson Abios Rundare told the Daily News that despite winning their court case against their employer, workers are yet to receive their salaries since November.

“The Labour Court ruled that we should be given our money. There is also the issue that the company has not been remitting our pensions to the insurance company (name supplied) and our social security contributions to Nssa.

“That is not in dispute because we understand now that the company has since paid a lump-sum to Nssa for the first time in 15 years,” Rundare said.

“Our investigations following resignations and deaths of employees show that there is nothing in the form of pensions and this also came to light when we wanted to move to another insurance company. That is when we realised that there is nothing,” he said.

Harare police spokesperson Tadious Chibanda confirmed the job action and that there had been a misunderstanding with police details.

“It is true that workers at that factory are staging a sit-in and as police we have a mandate to make sure peace prevails. The workers tried to stop the managing director from leaving the premises. That is when police intervened to defuse the situation,” he said.

“The workers were not happy with the police intervention but this has since been addressed,” Chibanda said.

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